Yup, someone decided to play a prank on Gap. But it's not exactly as fun or lighthearted as that sentence implies. Your favorite comfy jeans and T-shirts store is apparently not a favorite of Asian American activist group 18 Million Rising, which has claimed responsibility for the Gap hoax.
The hoax itself is pretty simple. Basically, 18 Million Rising created a pretty convincing website called "GapDoesMore.com" that explained the company's dedication to providing improved working conditions for laborers in Bangladesh. Except none of it is real and, according to 18 Million Rising, Gap isn't doing anything when it comes to unfair working conditions — and that's the problem.
The site also discussed how Gap would now be compensating those affected in the Aswad Composite Mills fire of October 2013. While Gap did admit to having some connection to the factory fire, the brand has since claimed to be working to prevent such tragedies in the future.
The phony site also included a fake press release describing the company's new mission.
"We ask other brands and retailers to join with us in the accord to work together to prevent further terrible tragedies in Bangladesh. We are committed to compensating the families of those who have lost their lives and those injured in our supply chain. Just as we provided compensation following the That’s It Sportswear fire in December 2010, we will be providing $200,000 in compensation to those affected by the Aswad Composite Mills fire in October 2013," the fake press release said.
As convincing as the press release and site appeared, it soon came to light that Gap really didn't say any of those things at all and has, in fact, denied all involvement with poor working conditions — despite a not-so-distant video of a 12-year-old girl sewing an Old Navy (a Gap affiliate) label onto a piece of clothing. Awkward.
18 Million Rising says it's challenging Gap to do more than just sell clothes, and denies that the hoax is even about the company itself.
"This is not about a hoax on the company,” said 18 Million Rising in a statement. “It’s about justice for the workers who make the company possible.”
While 18 Million Rising raises a valid point — that the labor behind a company's product is often overlooked, neglected, and mistreated — Gap has adamantly denied all of the accusations behind the activist group's fake site hoax.
The brand has also issued a statement confirming that the site is a fake, and stating that Gap will continue to investigate the "fake digital properties." While creating an entire (convincing) fake website seems like an elaborate (not to mention seemingly harmless) prank for such a big, controversial issue, 18 MIllion Rising is certainly succeeding in gaining publicity.
GapDoesMore may not be a real site, but drawing attention to the fact that the brand, well, really may not be doing more of anything when it comes to working conditions in reality is certainly not good news for the brand.